Did you know that the ear and the nose are two parts of the human body that never stop growing? The ear and the nose are two interictal parts to help your body process smells and sounds. What would happen if suddenly you lost the surrounding cartilage of your nose and ear? Back before the twenty-first century you might have been out of luck, but thankfully now we live in an age where technology can actually create new ear and nose cartilages!
Bioprinted ear cartilage
This process is called bioprinting, where scientists use 3D printers to essentially “print” live tissue. In bioprinting, scientists fill a unique 3D printer with live stem cells in a temperature regulated and closed off area within the printer. Using a CT or MRI scan, the machine carefully stacks the stem cells layer-by layer- onto the supporting printer cartilage, forming a 3D shape. Once the live tissue has been made into its full and final shape, scientists must regulate its surroundings, making sure the stem cells are kept in warm conditions with an adequate supply of oxygen. Once the patient is ready for the procedure, doctors can then perform surgery to replace or add back the new tissue.
Printing process of stem issues layer by layer
Now you may be asking, how far can bioprinting go? Well the truth is that this technology has already advanced in its short life time. Scientists have been able to “print” ligaments and tendons for severe tendonitis and Osgood Schlatter disease patients. Furthermore, doctors have even attempted to “print” smaller organs such as the liver and kidney. However, although they were able to recreate the structure of the organs, the printed kidney was unable to possess the working parts of blood vessels, tubules for collecting urine, and many other cells required for the organ to be compatible with the body.
Printing of kidney
Despite this, scientists have not lost hope, and they predict that with bioprinting they will one day be able to print a full and working human organ. Just recently in 2019, scientists in Israel created a working rabbit-sized heart! Just imagine the possibilities that are to come with the advancements of bioprinting! More people will be able to receive organs– or a form of an organ– from transplant lists! People suffering with external facial deformities can now get new noses and ears! The possibilities are endless! With this new advancements of bioprinting in this crazy world we live in, what will come next?
Isreali 2019 Bio Printed Heart
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